2018 has been a pretty wild year for me so far, filled with many ups and downs. I’ve had personal struggles, made beautiful memories, and would choose to do it all over again. With the Thailand trip coming up in a little over a month, there’s lots to think about in preparation for it. In the process, I’m getting myself amped up to leave America for the first time in twelve years.
When I thought about where I’d spend my first trip out of America, a few destinations came to mind. There were many romanticized destinations, places that were picture perfect and ripe for Instagram material. But I promised myself that I wouldn’t focus on getting likes, but instead simply allow myself to bask in the journey of personal growth and discovery.
Being a hopeless romantic, I naturally incorporated a couple of sweet gorgeous places where I’d love to escape to. So as I work to narrow down on the itinerary, here’s where I’ll be going…
Legend (according to my mom) has it that she and my father had trouble conceiving (TMI, sorry) at the age of 33 and had decided to pray to Phra Phom at the Erawan Shrine. Shortly after that, I joined the ranks of the human race. When I was a little under two years old, I had a high fever that caused some epic seizures and I was on the brink of death. Once again, mom prayed to Phra Phom and I was healed. She has on several occasions quipped that I’m Phra Phom’s “godson”. So there we go, I’m some sort of a demigod!
Thus it made sense that I’d pay a visit to “godfather” before venturing off much further in Bangkok, and deeper into Thailand.
Jim Thompson’s House
Jim Thompson is a name frequently associated with Thai Silk. After he relocated to Bangkok and founded the Thai Silk Company Limited in 1948, Thompson became an avid collector of Southeast Asian artwork. It is through his influence that Southeast Asian art gained exposure in the world.
The Jim Thompson house is a must for anyone looking to understand the history of the proliferation of Thai Silk.
Pak Khlong Flower Market
Thailand is well known for it’s beautiful and aromatic floral garlands (known as Phuang malai in Thai) that adorns fences, Buddha statues, and car rearview mirrors. These garlands are symbolic of Thailand and her culture, where the malai in various sizes and configurations are used for different purposes.
During Songkran (Thai New Year), it’s not uncommon to see participants douse each other with water during the Water Festival, then adorn them with a malai. Unfortunately I won’t be in Thailand during that period, but I so happen to just be in time for Loi Krathong.
Every year somewhere in the month of November, Thailand celebrates the festival of Loi Krathong where celebrants float candle-lit baskets decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, and filled with various goods to honor the Buddha. Often times people would include fingernail or hair clippings as a way to get their past transgressions and negative thoughts forgiven. It’s not uncommon to catch glimpses of couples exchanging displays of affection, as this festival does have a very romantic vibe to it.
Asiatique: The Riverfront
Occupying the East Asiatic Company’s former docks along the Chao Phraya River, this very well lit open-air mall in Bangkok is a fun place to visit to take in the night-scenes of Bangkok away from the seedy areas. Occupied by approximately 1500 stores and 40 restaurants, this gigantic area is a playground for locals and tourists alike who are looking to spend their evenings (and hard earned money) away browsing for countless varieties of goods.
Due to its enormous size, the mall is divided in four thematic “districts”, each featuring a different vibe and categories of stores.
Wat Pho (pronounced Po) is a Buddhist temple that’s home to the famous reclining Buddha, and the birthplace of Thai Massage. Widely considered as earliest center for public education in Thailand, Wat Pho is recognized by UNESCO in its Memory of the World program for the various illustrations of Thai massage and medicine scattered throughout the complex walls.
In addition to being a Buddhist temple, Wat Pho also houses a school of Thai medicine, and is well known as the birth place of Thai massage, where it’s still taught and practiced today. I look forward to experiencing some authentic Thai massage (where else would be better than the birth place of the art) after exploring the streets of Bangkok.
While the activities above all revolve around Bangkok, there’s a quaint and peaceful countryside in the Northeastern Isaan region of Thailand. One of these provinces is Ubon Ratchathani, where my mother was born and raised.
I haven’t quite figured out a list of things I’d like to do yet in Ubon, but presently it’s looking like a relaxing R&R time on its small beaches eating seafood, and letting whatever troubles me melt away in the blistering Thai sun.
So there we have it for the moment. As things shape up, I’ll keep adding more details in new articles and keep everyone updated on what may happen.